Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Phew! (02/11/10)
TITLE: there in the tuxedo-ed moment
By Jim McWhinnie
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I had seen it many times before, the look that pleads the question, “What am I doing here?” Every time I have encountered the look, I have answered it the same way. I smile, I grab a shoulder, I wink, and then I state with firm and confident pastoral authority, “Son, it will soon be over.” With that final congratulatory wink, I open the door to the sanctuary and lead the procession of nervous groom and his stalwart friends into the moments of sacred commitment.
Well over a thousand brave men have given me that look and every one of them has made it through the moment. I have not lost a one. Oh, a couple of the fellows have weakened at the knees and swooned in the air of the holy altar, but even they were revived to say their solemn vows.
One might think that the “look” might be a sign of weakness in their seriousness of love. But I have found it to be generally to the contrary. The deeper the love, the more serious the reverence, the more likely the groom is overwhelmed with the meaning of the next few minutes. They realize that they about to enter into a life-changing covenant where love is translating itself into providential responsibility.
The walk takes twenty-five well-measured steps, each step taken with an unfamiliar formality. The groom fidgets. He attempts to settle himself into his rented tuxedo and his glossy black shoes, straining one last time to make his neck and his bow tie, comfortable friends.
The music makes it change and the lovely ladies-in-waiting float down the aisle, building in elegant anticipation of the coming of the bride. As the congregation rises and the doors open, a quiet approval is whispered among the pews and the groom who stands beside me, he smiles.
She arrives in her all her loveliness. The father of the bride, he beams with a somehow nostalgic joy; his pride in his little princess troubled by this rite of changing homes. For the groom, the watching crowd fades away and he becomes lost in the intimate love two lovers share in the thoughts behind their smiles.
Hands are held; words are spoken; vows are shared; candles are lit. Then after a prayer, a pronouncement is made, a kiss is kissed for the first time as husband and wife. The resting pipe organ comes to life and joy suddenly fills the room. The newlyweds are about to launch into the party of life, but before they do, in one last instant, the groom looks back to me with eyes that always say, “Phew! I made it!”
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